Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mystery of History Vol 2, Christian Kids Explore Physics

Having heard Maggie Hogan speak a number of times at the MassHOPE Homeschool Convention, and because I hold Maggie in high regard, and respect her opinion, I was delighted that her company, Bright Ideas Press, was going to be a part of the TOS Crew Reviews this year. When it came time for this review, we were given a few choices of material to use and review, and I was so delighted to receive TWO!

First up.... Mystery of History
I received Volume 2~ The Early Church and the Middle Ages~ ($49.95)
This was a "no brainer" for me to choose, since we had started the Middle Ages last spring, and the kids wanted to continue this fall. I decided to go ahead and start at the beginning, even though we had covered some of the material, because, well... a little review isn't a bad idea. :)

I really like the way that the author, Linda Lacour Hobar, writes directly to the kids, and makes history "Readable". She is also pretty good about warning those with younger children about material that may be too sensitive or difficult for them to handle. I appreciate that, particularly when studying things like the Middle Ages... there's a reason that they are also referred to as the "Dark Ages". We were able to learn a little about Masada, for instance, without getting too graphic, although I did still have to moderate what I read...

I also appreciate the Christian worldview that is presented throughout the text. It is good to see world history through that perspective, particularly for the youngest in our households. Without that viewpoint, and the concept that God * is * in control, history could be a rather depressing read at times.

What I see as the benefits of MOH: The following are all included, and you can decide what to use(Or not), depending on what works best for your family and/or learners.

We used regularly:
  • Multi-level use~ Basic, readable "Lessons"/ Text, expandable with age-appropriate activities
  • Shortish lessons (My kids usually are begging me to read another... )
  • Quizzes, worksheets, exercises and activities to expand on the material (We do these, and enjoy them for the most part... it is good to have something quantitative when so much that we do is conversational)
  • Reproducible student pages and outline maps
  • A GREAT list in the back of the book of optional Supplemental Books and Resources, for enrichment, listed by age category, following the order of the lessons.
Things that are considered "CORE" for some folks, but end up being more "optional" in our homeschool:
  • Weekly timeline and mapping exercises
  • The well thought-out and organized "Memory Card" method~ This is something that I would like to get into more, because I can see that this is a good precursor to writing research papers, and could be a very helpful memory aid.
I do wish that the optional reproducible CD ($19.95) was available for the MAC OS, because I prefer to print from the computer vs copying from the book, but that is minor...

There are some other supplements available that I should mention here, although I have not used them (More information is available on the BIP MoH page):
  • Mystery of History II CD Audio set ($48.95) The entire text read by the author
  • Mystery of History Folderbooks ~Quarter 1 currently available~ ($15.00) ~ Mini books and directions
  • Mystery of History II Craft Pak CD-Rom ($19.95) ~ 8 historical art projects
  • History Through the Ages Historical Timeline Figures~ Resurrection Through Revolution($19.95)By Amy Pak of Homeschool in the Woods~ These would be one of my top choices of supplemental supplies if I had the extra cash to spend... I loved her materials that we reviewed last year.
Final analysis... History is Sooooo huge, that there is no way to cover it all in any one curriculum. However, I think that Linda Lacour Hobar does a fine job of presenting the essential, as well as some of the more obscure stories from history from a readable, therefore memorable, Christian perspective. From what I have seen and used, I am very pleased with her treatment of this study, and feel that it helps to engage the student, and interest them in history. This is important for history's sake, but more important that we learn from history. Here's a slightly political post on my other blog that you might find interesting.... it was sparked by our discussion of the Roman Emporer Diocletian in Week 5, Lesson 13. My apologies for being semi-political here, but the point is... history is so interesting and has much to teach us, both about the past and the present if we will only read/listen and actually hear and learn.

The other item that my family received to use and review was
Christian Kids Explore Physics by Robert W Ridlon, Jr., and Elizabeth J. Ridlon


Christian Kids Explore Physics($34.95) is one of four titles in the Christian Kids Explore Science Series and the 2nd book in the series by the Ridlon's(The other is Christian Kids Explore Chemistry). It looked like a great fit for my kids this year, since it is once again, a multi-age (Grades 4-8), easy teacher prep, 2-3 times/week combo of reading and hands on activities.

In general, I like the set up of the curriculum, with vocabulary in the side bars, as well as Bible verses that are relevant to the topic at hand. (I like being able to find the vocabulary quickly and easily... makes it a snap to create those crosswords and wordsearches that I mentioned in my review of abcteach!)

The lessons are a decent length, particularly for the younger age, and are followed by :
  • Review pages (Typically "Fill -in-the-blank) ~I like these!~
  • A hands-on activity (Anything from an experiment to baking cookies!)~ My kids like these!~
  • "Think About It" Questions ~ Your mileage may vary on these... My children didn't particularly enjoy them, although with consistent use, I'm hoping that they may become more "Thoughtful".... ;) After all, school doesn't always have to be "Fun"... although I'm sure that there are some children who would thrive on these sorts of questions. :)
Supplemental books are listed in the back, to give your older student more meat or to reinforce what was learned. There are even books included for the youngest students (PreK-2nd) that might be "tagging along" with their older siblings... this is a nice feature!

My one Con: I feel that the quizzes (and therefore, assessment) are more for the Elementary age(even early elementary) than for the Junior high age. The "Quizzes" at the end of each unit are very simple, multiple choice quizzes. Very easy even for my 9 year old to answer. (A little disappointed in this as it seems to be a little "dumbed down" in my opinion... :( ) I have decided to mostly give the quizzes without using the multiple choice option, and turning them in to "Fill-in-the-blank" questions. For my 4th grader, I might consider an overall "Word bank", or let him match up the correct answer with each question.

An option that I haven't purchased, but would find useful (and this one IS available for MAC OS), is a Student Activity Book($12.95) download. This contains all of the reproducibles in the book, from the coloring sheets for the littles to the review-its and experiment forms.

If you'd like to see a little more, here is the Table of Contents (There appear to be "mark-ups" on the pdf, but I just ignored them...) and sample pages from Lesson 18, and Lesson 19.

Will I keep using this curriculum??? Probably, yes.
Do I feel that it is the most exacting academically for a middle-schooler? Umm.... no, but she'll enjoy tagging along with her little brother, and I can follow the suggestions to "Beef it up" with extra reading from the supplemental list in the back. Right now doing a multi-level curriculum works for my situation, so this fits that bill nicely.

Some TOS Crew members received other products to review from Bright Ideas Press, so you'll especially want to check out the TOS Crew page this time around, and find out "What's New?" at BIP!

PS.... The FAQs page at BIP may be useful to you because includes information on using both Mystery of History and Christian Kids Explore..... (You have to scroll down past the general "business" questions... keep going....)

1 comment:

  1. We are using MOH 2 this year also. We meet with another family and are working through the craft pack. The projects are pretty advanced. My experience with the first few is, the kids get frustrated with some aspects, but the finished product is so nice, they forget the agonies.


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